SNS photo from BBC website
Clydesdale Bank SPL, Saturday 16 October 2010 - Pittodrie
I don't go to many Hearts away games these days but made the effort to head to the Granite City on Saturday to see a game between two teams who have had a stop-start season thus far. Aberdeen began the season at the top of the SPL after winning their opening two games but have endured a barren run of late. Hearts, meanwhile, have turned Tynecastle from a fortress to a free-for-all - they haven't won a league game in Gorgie so far this season - but have a decent record on their travels. Which is why I was quietly but not overly confident of a win for the maroons at Pittodrie (well, the turquoise and white stripes...)
It was one of those games which the media like to call 'tousy'. Referee Mike Tumilty issued seven yellow cards and could - some say perhaps should - have issued at least one red. The bad feeling seemed to emanate from a quite ridiculous reaction from Aberdeen's Zander Diamond who fell to the ground as if he had been shot by a sniper in the main stand after he and Hearts Kevin Kyle went for a fifty-fifty ball. Kyle reacted angrily to Diamond's theatrics and from then on there seemed bad blood between the sides. Blood being the operative word in the case of Hearts Rudi Skacel who had blood pouring from his nose after receiving a smack in the face from a home player.
Suso Santana was then elbowed in the face by Dons defender McArdle. Santana required lengthy treatment and soon developed a lump the size of a large egg on the side of his face. Referee Tumilty stopped play but chose not even to book McArdle or even award Hearts a free-kick. Santana reacted with similar anger to that shown by Kyle and thought it would be wise to clip the Aberdeen player round the ear. Thankfully, Mr Tumilty also missed this although I have a suspicion the SFA will take retrospective action against the Spanish winger, who had an excellent game otherwise.
The only goal of the game came a minute into the second half when fine passing play from the visitors let Calum Elliot deliver an inch perfect cross for Kyle to powerfully head past home keeper Howard who was replaced moments afterwards suffering from concussion.
There was no doubt Hearts deserved to win the game, the only disappointment being they only had a single goal to show for their domination. With two home games coming up against St. Mirren and Kilmarnock, Hearts now have the chance to break their Tynecastle duck. Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee must feel he has a long hard season ahead.
Disappointingly for a fixture that used to be one of the highlights of the season, there were less than 9,000 at Pittodrie on Saturday. And over 1,000 were in maroon. Still, at least we enjoyed the journey home...